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Top 200 Big Board, PPR: Version 2.0


Preseason Matchup Analysis

By Doug Orth | 8/25/20 |
PPR | Half-Point PPR | Non-PPR | SuperFlex

Imagine if I asked you to go on a three-hour drive and told you the route included exactly 10 turns (and/or changes of direction). If prompted, I could tell you a ton of details about the journey, such as what you could expect in terms of fuel efficiency and how long it took others to make the same trip. The caveat: I am not allowed to give you directions to your destination and you will not have access to GPS.

This example came to mind over the weekend as I was driving to the grocery store and tuned into Sirius XM Fantasy Radio. A fairly high-profile analyst was noticeably surprised as one of the show's co-hosts read off a particular receiver's matchups for the 2020 season. Think about that for a second: an analyst who makes a living in this industry and charges customers for his insight not taking matchups into account - perhaps the most important factor that helps us set our lineups, at least early in the season. His reaction was not one of being reminded about how difficult the player's individual matchups were, but rather one of complete ignorance. This came on the heels of a rant by another Sirius XM analyst who went off on the number of fantasy analysts who rely almost entirely on data one day earlier.

As much as I hope you value my opinions and insights when it comes to fantasy football, the goal at the end of the day is to win championships as often as possible. Even though fantasy football is a numbers game, that kind of success doesn't come from merely crunching numbers. Winning consistently in fantasy football involves a solid marriage of film analysis and analytical insights; find an analyst or five who can do that - assuming you don't have the time/interest/knowledge to do it yourself - and I'm willing to bet you will soon be winning 60 percent or more of your matchups. Analytics may confirm Derrick Henry is perhaps the best runner in the league when it comes to yards after contact, but they can't begin to explain how the Patriots defense shut out DeVante Parker in Week 2 and gave up an 8-137-0 line to him with playoff implications on the line in Week 17 unless they come attached with some context.

The other lesson to be learned here: don't be afraid to (respectfully) test any analyst. Of course, I don't mean playing a game of 20 questions with them, but rather ask for specifics. Any service/analyst whose advice comes with a price tag should be able to deliver them. After all, just about any fantasy question I don't know off the top of my head or can't find by clicking on a few links can usually be found by watching NFL Game Pass.

Allow me to reluctantly engage in a bit of a humble brag before we get into the heart of what I believe is the best draft-day tool around. (Yes, I'm biased.) I've been playing in money leagues for 20 years and in high-stakes leagues ($1,000-plus entry) for over 10 years. I've played in those high-stakes leagues during the leanest of times, and I did so in part because I knew I had an advantage my competition did not. Does it always result in a league prize? Of course not. However, I think the fact I have yet to finish in the red in any year since I started is a pretty good indication my approach works. My analysis will not always end up being right, but rest assured it came as the result of film review AND analytical research.

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Football is simple at its very core but a very complex game to evaluate and analyze because 11 men are being asked to work in harmony approximately 60 times per game, while 11 other men are being asked to disrupt that harmony. Pro football is not pro basketball in that a team can clear out one side of the court when things break down and the offense can still score. Pro football is not pro baseball in that one player can defeat a pitcher and eight fielders by timing his swing just right. Even as great as Barry Sanders was, he never beat a defense all by himself. In football, every player needs some help to accomplish his goal. That is part of what makes football so great and part of what makes it so highly unpredictable. The violence of the game - even by the tamer standards in this day and age - adds another element to the equation that is difficult to quantify.

Regardless, it doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Over the last month, I have evaluated the weekly matchups for 500-plus players. Analyzing matchups alone requires me to make 7,500 "decisions". This is not meant to be a humble brag. Each year, my goal is to give those who put their faith in my evaluations the confidence they have the best draft-day tool at their disposal. I like to think that even if readers believe my logic is flawed for whatever reason, they can count on the fact that much thought has been put into that opinion.

How much thought, you ask?

For example, Michael Gallup lined up on the left side of the formation 456 times, on the right side 292 times and in the slot 96 times last year. Since the majority of defensive coordinators tend to have their cornerbacks stick to one side as opposed to following a particular receiver, Gallup's ability to match up and defeat each of the defensive backs in those spots should/needs to be considered. I do that for each player who projects to stand inside the top three of his team's depth chart, and all of that information is factored into my projections. While how often Gallup lines up in a certain spot will inevitably be different from last year, it's unlikely his role as Dallas' "X" receiver will change under second-year OC Kellen Moore.

Fantasy football is a stock market game, and our job as analysts is identifying when stocks may be poised for an increase or ready to tank. While last year's results help fantasy owners/analysts set the table for the following season, they are merely a starting point. Fantasy rankings and drafting need to be predictive, not reactive. This is the approach I have taken for more than 10 years. While some of the processes have changed in that time, the main goal has not.

The Success Score Index (SSI) below is powered in large part by my target and carry predictions that have been featured in this space over the last two weeks. As always, the matchups are included in the algorithm. SSI allows me to compare apples to oranges across positions. Perhaps just as importantly, I have been able to eliminate most of the guesswork across different scoring systems (PPR, standard, etc.).

For all of those unfamiliar with my Big Boards, allow me to explain the color-coding system before we start:

Red For lower-level players, a red matchup is the most difficult one a player can face. For a second- or third-tier player, drop your expectations for them at least one grade that week (i.e. from WR2 to WR3). For elite players, expect them to perform one level lower than their usual status (i.e. RB1 performs like an RB2).

Yellow For lower-level players, he is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier player, the slight edge goes to the defense in what is essentially a toss-up. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average production.

White This one can go either way, but I favor the player over the matchup. In some cases, I just don’t feel like I have a good feel yet for this matchup. Generally speaking, these matchups are winnable for all levels of players.

Green For non-elite players, the stage is set for a player to have a productive day. For the elite player, this matchup could produce special numbers.

Note: Players with a next to their name have some degree of injury/character/holdout concern. Also, I have added tiers for this final round of Big Boards. I decided to ditch the color-coded tiers I have used in previous years for a simpler and more straight-forward number-based system.

Later this week, I will release my Top 200 Big Boards for standard and 0.5 PPR leagues. In the coming days, I will present my final rankings for kickers and defense/special teams as well. Next week will feature Top 200 Big Boards for Superflex leagues as well as the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC).

Here is the scoring system that I used to rank the players in the PPR format:

 PPR Big Board - Top 200
Rk Tier Pos Player Tm SSI 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1 1 RB1 Christian McCaffrey CAR 13.0
2 1 RB2 Saquon Barkley NYG 10.6
3 1 RB3 Alvin Kamara NO 9.1
4 1 RB4 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 8.2
5 1 WR1 Davante Adams GB 6.7
6 1 WR2 Michael Thomas NO 6.6
7 2 RB5 Dalvin Cook MIN 6.5
8 2 RB6 Miles Sanders PHI 6.2
9 2 RB7 Joe Mixon CIN 5.3
10 2 RB8 Kenyan Drake ARI 5.3
11 2 RB9 Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC 5.2
12 2 RB10 Derrick Henry TEN 5.1
13 2 RB11 Josh Jacobs LV 5.0
14 2 WR3 Julio Jones ATL 4.7
15 2 TE1 Travis Kelce KC 4.2
16 2 WR4 Chris Godwin TB 4.0
17 2 TE2 George Kittle SF 4.0
18 2 RB12 Aaron Jones GB 3.8
19 2 WR5 Tyreek Hill KC 3.7
20 2 RB13 Austin Ekeler LAC 3.4
21 2 WR6 DeAndre Hopkins ARI 3.3
22 2 QB1 Patrick Mahomes KC 3.2
23 3 WR7 Odell Beckham Jr. CLE 2.9
24 3 RB14 Nick Chubb CLE 2.8
25 3 RB15 James Conner PIT 2.7
26 3 WR8 Adam Thielen MIN 2.6
27 3 WR9 Robert Woods LAR 2.5
28 3 WR10 Allen Robinson CHI 2.5
29 3 WR11 Calvin Ridley ATL 2.4
30 3 WR12 D.J. Moore CAR 2.4
31 3 WR13 Kenny Golladay DET 2.4
32 3 RB16 Chris Carson SEA 2.4
33 3 WR14 Mike Evans TB 2.4
34 3 WR15 A.J. Brown TEN 2.3
35 3 WR16 JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT 2.3
36 3 WR17 Tyler Lockett SEA 2.2
37 3 QB2 Lamar Jackson BAL 2.1
38 4 RB17 Jonathan Taylor IND 2.1
39 4 RB18 Todd Gurley ATL 2.0
40 4 RB19 Le'Veon Bell NYJ 2.0
41 4 RB20 Leonard Fournette JAC 2.0
42 4 WR18 DeVante Parker MIA 1.6
43 4 RB21 David Johnson HOU 1.6
44 4 WR19 Amari Cooper DAL 1.4
45 4 RB22 Melvin Gordon DEN 1.4
46 4 TE3 Zach Ertz PHI 1.4
47 4 TE4 Mark Andrews BAL 1.3
48 4 WR20 DK Metcalf SEA 1.1
49 5 TE5 Darren Waller LV 0.9
50 5 WR21 Terry McLaurin WAS 0.7
51 5 WR22 Jarvis Landry CLE 0.6
52 5 WR23 Cooper Kupp LAR 0.5
53 5 QB3 Dak Prescott DAL 0.5
54 5 WR24 Courtland Sutton DEN 0.5
55 5 WR25 D.J. Chark JAC 0.4
56 5 WR26 Tyler Boyd CIN 0.4
57 5 RB23 Mark Ingram BAL 0.4
58 5 RB24 Ronald Jones TB 0.3
59 5 WR27 A.J. Green CIN 0.3
60 5 WR28 Keenan Allen LAC 0.2
61 5 RB25 David Montgomery CHI 0.0
62 6 TE6 Hayden Hurst ATL 0.0
63 6 RB26 Kareem Hunt CLE -0.1
64 6 RB27 D'Andre Swift DET -0.2
65 6 QB4 Russell Wilson SEA -0.3
66 6 QB5 Carson Wentz PHI -0.3
67 6 WR29 Michael Gallup DAL -0.4
68 6 QB6 Deshaun Watson HOU -0.4
69 6 QB7 Kyler Murray ARI -0.4
70 6 WR30 Marquise Brown BAL -0.5
71 6 TE7 Evan Engram NYG -0.5
72 7 RB28 Raheem Mostert SF -0.6
73 7 WR31 Stefon Diggs BUF -0.7
74 7 RB29 J.K. Dobbins BAL -0.8
75 7 QB8 Tom Brady TB -1.1
76 7 WR32 Marvin Jones DET -1.1
77 7 RB30 Cam Akers LAR -1.2
78 7 RB31 Tarik Cohen CHI -1.2
79 7 QB9 Drew Brees NO -1.3
80 7 WR33 Brandin Cooks HOU -1.4
81 7 WR34 T.Y. Hilton IND -1.5
82 7 RB32 Phillip Lindsay DEN -1.5
83 8 TE8 Tyler Higbee LAR -1.6
84 8 WR35 Will Fuller HOU -1.6
85 8 WR36 Julian Edelman NE -1.6
86 8 WR37 Jamison Crowder NYJ -1.7
87 8 WR38 Diontae Johnson PIT -1.7
88 8 RB33 James White NE -1.7
89 8 WR39 CeeDee Lamb DAL -1.7
90 8 RB34 Zack Moss BUF -1.7
91 8 TE9 Hunter Henry LAC -1.8
92 8 WR40 Anthony Miller CHI -1.8
93 8 RB35 Devin Singletary BUF -1.9
94 8 WR41 Golden Tate NYG -2.0
95 8 WR42 Christian Kirk ARI -2.1
96 8 WR43 Curtis Samuel CAR -2.1
97 8 QB10 Matt Ryan ATL -2.2
98 8 WR44 Emmanuel Sanders NO -2.3
99 8 QB11 Matthew Stafford DET -2.3
100 8 RB36 Matt Breida MIA -2.3
101 9 WR45 Michael Pittman Jr. IND -2.3
102 9 TE10 Jared Cook NO -2.3
103 9 TE11 T.J. Hockenson DET -2.5
104 9 RB37 Marlon Mack IND -2.7
105 9 WR46 Henry Ruggs III LV -2.7
106 9 WR47 Jalen Reagor PHI -2.8
107 9 WR48 Parris Campbell IND -2.8
108 9 QB12 Josh Allen BUF -2.8
109 9 TE12 Chris Herndon NYJ -2.8
110 9 QB13 Daniel Jones NYG -2.9
111 9 WR49 Jerry Jeudy DEN -2.9
112 9 WR50 Deebo Samuel SF -3.0
113 9 QB14 Ben Roethlisberger PIT -3.0
114 9 TE13 Mike Gesicki MIA -3.0
115 10 RB38 Duke Johnson HOU -3.1
116 10 RB39 Jordan Howard MIA -3.1
117 10 QB15 Aaron Rodgers GB -3.1
118 10 TE14 Noah Fant DEN -3.1
119 10 RB40 Boston Scott PHI -3.1
120 10 TE15 Jonnu Smith TEN -3.2
121 10 WR51 Darius Slayton NYG -3.4
122 10 WR52 Preston Williams MIA -3.4
123 10 WR53 Sterling Shepard NYG -3.5
124 10 WR54 Bryan Edwards LV -3.5
125 10 TE16 Rob Gronkowski TB -3.5
126 10 WR55 John Brown BUF -3.5
127 10 QB16 Baker Mayfield CLE -3.5
128 10 WR56 Justin Jefferson MIN -3.5
129 10 WR57 Randall Cobb HOU -3.6
130 10 QB17 Cam Newton NE -3.7
131 11 TE17 Irv Smith MIN -3.7
132 11 TE18 Dallas Goedert PHI -3.7
133 11 QB18 Ryan Tannehill TEN -3.8
134 11 TE19 O.J. Howard TB -3.9
135 11 TE20 Eric Ebron PIT -3.9
136 11 RB41 Kerryon Johnson DET -3.9
137 11 WR58 DeSean Jackson PHI -4.0
138 11 RB42 Latavius Murray NO -4.0
139 11 RB43 Alexander Mattison MIN -4.1
140 11 WR59 Larry Fitzgerald ARI -4.1
141 11 WR60 Allen Lazard GB -4.2
142 11 WR61 Mecole Hardman KC -4.2
143 11 TE21 Blake Jarwin DAL -4.2
144 11 TE22 Greg Olsen SEA -4.3
145 11 WR62 Steven Sims WAS -4.4
146 11 QB19 Joe Burrow CIN -4.5
147 11 QB20 Jared Goff LAR -4.5
148 11 RB44 Damien Harris NE -4.5
149 11 RB45 AJ Dillon GB -4.6
150 12 TE23 Austin Hooper CLE -4.6
151 12 WR63 Robby Anderson CAR -4.6
152 12 WR64 Mike Williams LAC -4.7
153 12 WR65 Brandon Aiyuk SF -4.7
154 12 RB46 Tevin Coleman SF -4.7
155 12 RB47 Bryce Love WAS -4.8
156 12 RB48 DeAndre Washington KC -4.8
157 12 QB21 Jimmy Garoppolo SF -4.8
158 12 RB49 Jerick McKinnon SF -4.9
159 12 RB50 Adrian Peterson WAS -4.9
160 12 TE24 Jace Sternberger GB -4.9
161 12 WR66 Hunter Renfrow LV -5.0
162 12 RB51 Chase Edmonds ARI -5.0
163 12 RB52 Nyheim Hines IND -5.0
164 13 TE25 Gerald Everett LAR -5.0
165 13 QB22 Kirk Cousins MIN -5.1
166 13 QB23 Philip Rivers IND -5.1
167 13 TE26 Tyler Eifert JAC -5.2
168 13 TE27 Ian Thomas CAR -5.2
169 13 RB53 Tony Pollard DAL -5.3
170 13 QB24 Derek Carr LV -5.3
171 13 TE28 Jack Doyle IND -5.5
172 13 RB54 Antonio Gibson WAS -5.5
173 13 WR67 Dede Westbrook JAC -5.5
174 13 QB25 Gardner Minshew JAC -5.5
175 13 QB26 Tyrod Taylor LAC -5.6
176 13 WR68 Sammy Watkins KC -5.6
177 13 QB27 Teddy Bridgewater CAR -5.7
178 13 WR69 Cole Beasley BUF -5.7
179 13 RB55 Darrell Henderson LAR -5.9
180 13 RB56 LeSean McCoy TB -6.0
181 13 WR70 Trent Taylor SF -6.2
182 13 WR71 Laviska Shenault Jr. JAC -6.2
183 13 RB57 Joshua Kelley LAC -6.2
184 13 WR72 Mohamed Sanu NE -6.3
185 13 WR73 James Washington PIT -6.3
186 14 RB58 Chris Thompson JAC -6.3
187 14 RB59 Darrynton Evans TEN -6.4
188 14 WR74 Corey Davis TEN -6.5
189 14 WR75 Breshad Perriman NYJ -6.5
190 14 WR76 Tee Higgins CIN -6.5
191 14 QB28 Drew Lock DEN -6.7
192 14 WR77 Russell Gage ATL -6.7
193 14 QB29 Sam Darnold NYJ -6.7
194 14 TE29 Dan Arnold ARI -7.1
195 14 WR78 N'Keal Harry NE -7.2
196 14 RB60 Justin Jackson LAC -7.6
197 14 WR79 Kendrick Bourne SF -8.0
198 14 WR80 Denzel Mims NYJ -8.0
199 14 WR81 Alshon Jeffery PHI -8.5
200 14 RB61 Sony Michel NE -8.6


Half-Pt PPR Big Board | Non-PPR Big Board | SuperFlex

Running Backs in Tiers 1 and 2

ESPN's Adam Schefter mentioned over the weekend that if Dalvin Cook and the Vikings can't come to terms on a new contract before the start of the season, it would give him (Schefter) pause in drafting Cook on his fantasy team. This is notable for several reasons, including but not limited to the fact that Schefter is not only about as good as it gets when it comes to NFL information but also an avid fantasy football player. Certainly, this could be little more than a ploy by Cook and his agent to get something done sooner than later. It could also be a hint that Cook will do the unthinkable (at least in terms of the code most athletes live by) and protect himself until his demands are met, not dissimilar to the way Le'Veon Bell handled his business a couple of years ago. Could Cook pull out of training camp in the coming days? It seems unfathomable that he would let an opportunity to play for OC Gary Kubiak go by in his walk year, but plenty of fantasy owners were already on the fence with him at No. 5 overall due to his lack of durability. It may end up being just the push many of us needed to place him behind the elite receivers (Thomas and Adams).

Continuing the theme I established in the intro, it is lazy analysis to suggest the only thing that happened to Joe Mixon in the second half of last year was the Bengals decided to increase his volume. The Bengals came to a few realizations leading into and during their Week 9 bye. Try as they might, Cincinnati simply did not have the personnel - particularly up front - to run the same outside zone scheme that HC Zac Taylor watched the Rams use under Sean McVay. It was about the same time Taylor gained a true appreciation for Mixon's talent, and it was also about the same time the Bengals began to realize A.J. Green was unlikely to return in time to rescue the offense. The major schematic change Cincinnati made was moving to a pin-and-pull blocking scheme that involves two interior offensive linemen pulling to the outside while receivers or tight ends lined up on the edge pin down to create a running lane. A second adjustment Cincinnati made was running Mixon up the middle more often and flexing TE C.J. Uzomah behind the right guard and right tackle to solve the problem of those two linemen being unable to get to the second level of the defense. Don't be afraid to target Mixon near the end of the first round; he may finally have the kind of coaching staff and supporting cast he needs to maximize his talent.

Based on drafts that I've been involved in so far, I'm fairly certain Derrick Henry is lower on my board than he is on most others'. It's hard in this day and age for a back - regardless of how talented he is - to be a first-round fantasy pick if he doesn't contribute much in the passing game. There's always a chance this will be the year he gets more involved in that respect, but we are entering Year 5 with him and multiple coaching staffs saw fit to limit his usage as a receiver. Consider for a second Henry is running behind a line that was afforded him a mere 1.9 yards before contact in each of the last two seasons and add in the fact the Titans lost their best run-blocker (RT Jack Conklin) in free agency. Never mind that Tennessee also must face Denver, Minnesota and Pittsburgh in the first month of the season and probably played over its head on defense a year ago, which should lead to more negative game scripts. There's also plenty of evidence to suggest backs experience significant drop-offs in production after a high-usage season (391 carries last year, including the playoffs). If the Titans are forced from behind a bit more often in 2020 and they continue to limit Henry as a receiver, it could end up being a disappointing season for a player coming off the board as early as No. 5 in some drafts.

Running Backs in Tiers 3 and beyond

Coaches and/or players will occasionally provide fantasy owners a cheat code when they talk. It's often up to us to decipher the message since they must walk the fine line of answering a question without giving up too much information. Fortunately, Steelers HC Mike Tomlin tends to say what he means and mean what he says. In the middle of May, the Pittsburgh Tribune asked Tomlin about his plans at running back for the 2020 season. Here was the bulk of his response:

Im a featured-runner type guy by mentality. I think that when you have a featured runner, it gives him the opportunity to drop a stake in the ground and allows others to rally around him, and it gives him a set of core base run plays that he specializes in, and you find a rhythm that way. James is a featured guy and proven runner when healthy. Were excited about him getting back to health and displaying that in 2020. Benny Snell is a guy that is capable of being a featured runner who plays with a physical style in a similar manner to James. Hes capable of being a James-type of guy if James is unavailable.

Throughout the bulk of Tomlin's time in Pittsburgh, this is exactly how the Steelers' backfield has operated. From Willie Parker to Rashard Mendenhall to Le'Veon Bell to DeAngelo Williams and now Conner, Pittsburgh has typically featured one running back and only taken him off the field when he needed to catch his breath or suffered an injury. Tomlin acknowledges Conner needs to stay healthy, but there's not much room for misinterpretation with anything the coach is saying. Conner is one year removed from being a top 10 pick in fantasy, so we already know he's capable. The coaching staff has a long history of relying heavily on a workhorse, so volume shouldn't be an issue. The major concern is his injury history. Unlike last year, that is being accounted for in his draft cost. Better yet, his handcuff (Snell) is either going in the last round of fantasy drafts or sitting on the waiver wire. If I told you that the only thing you have to do to secure a likely top 10 fantasy back is spend a third and 16th-round pick on the position, wouldn't everyone do it? I anticipate landing Conner and Snell on the bulk of my teams over the next two weeks and fully expect that combo to give me a weekly advantage at my RB2 spot.

This offseason may have just as well been dubbed "The Coronation of Jonathan Taylor." There's a certain level of risk tolerance one must accept once the first 14 running backs fly off the board, usually halfway through the second round. As I noted in the post-draft analysis following the FFToday Staff League Draft, I can't publicly rank Taylor over a number of backs because I realize there are a lot of people who use my Big Board as a draft-day tool and dont have the same tolerance for risk as I do. I took Leonard Fournette in the aforementioned draft in part to diversify my portfolio and in part because I wanted to lock in what I believe should be about 300 touches from my RB2. Marlon Mack may not be in Taylor's class, but I'm not sure this becomes Taylor's backfield until after the Colts' Week 7 bye. Even then, how often is Taylor going to stay on the field on passing downs with Nyheim Hines around? In my high-stakes leagues, I'm willing to roll the dice on Taylor as early as 3.02 because I know what the payoff could be if he leaves Mack in his wake sooner than later. There are considerable blemishes on the resumes of Fournette, Le'Veon Bell and Todd Gurley as well as just about every back behind them. The question with Taylor is this: can you afford to wait a month or maybe even longer to see a payoff from what might be this year's version of Nick Chubb in 2018?

Middle-round running backs

Without question, my favorite mid-round running backs are Phillip Lindsay and Zack Moss. Lindsay's value spiked a bit last week after HC Vic Fangio told reporters that he anticipates "both (Melvin Gordon and Lindsay) playing enough where we really don't have to designate a starter." Well then. Naturally, this is something that I expected and something that has been reflected on the Big Boards since I started releasing them two weeks ago. Lindsay's stock shouldn't be taken as an insult by Gordon supporters though, as the Broncos figure to be much improved on defense this season and could rely heavily on the ground game while trying to ease in Drew Lock as much as possible. It should not come as much of a surprise if Denver is among the leaders in rush attempts considering the talent it has in the backfield and Fangio's defensive-minded background, so there should be plenty of opportunity for both Gordon and Lindsay to be capable starters most weeks.

Moss is in a similar boat as Lindsay, as Devin Singletary will be about as tough to bounce from the starting lineup as Gordon. But fantasy owners should keep one very notable stat from last season in mind: Singletary faced eight men in the box a league-low 5.3 percent of the time. Frank Gore was at 37.35 percent - the third-highest mark in the league. In other words, opponents were more than willing to take their chances that the Bills were going to run whenever Gore was in the game and pass whenever Singletary entered. Don't expect defenses to back off Singletary so much this year. Moss gives Buffalo a capable pass-catcher in a power back's body, so he figures to enjoy more success in Gore's old role than his predecessor did. Further consider Moss was drafted in part to convert the goal-line opportunities Gore did not in 2019, which led to half of Josh Allen's eight rushing scores in 2019. Buffalo also figures to lean more heavily on the ground game as the weather gets colder in November and December. Cold weather tends to make coaches turn to big-boy football, and that is where Moss excels. It certainly doesn't hurt his cause that the Bills are also led by a defensive-minded head coach (Sean McDermott).

Tier 3 receivers

So let me get this right: Odell Beckham plays through a core muscle injury for the bulk of last season, logs 16 games for the first time in three seasons and puts up over 1,000 yards in a dysfunctional offense and he's more affordable in fantasy drafts than at any time since he was a rookie. I get it to a point: new HC Kevin Stefanski is installing his Minnesota offense (or so everyone wants to believe), thereby reducing the number of targets available, and OBJ hasn't been the most durable player. Still, even if we make the assumption Stefanski: a) is calling the shots on offense and b) implements a carbon copy of the Vikings' passing game from a season ago, I would argue Cleveland's defense this year may not be on par with Minnesota's last year AND the Browns may actually have superior talent at quarterback, wide receiver and tight end. It's a fairly safe bet Cleveland will attempt at least 500 passes this season and maybe even top 525. What are the odds OBJ and Landry don't combine to absorb half of those looks? They easily cleared that benchmark last year and neither one of them was healthy. Don't let one year change your opinion on Beckham's transcendent talent. If he is healthy, he will get his targets. With Stefanski placing a heavy emphasis on play-action passes in this offense, it should mean more YAC opportunities for one of the better run-after-catch receivers in the league.

There's not much evidence to suggest Robert Woods will ever be a proficient touchdown scorer. His career high is seven (six receiving, one rushing) in 2018. Every other season, he has managed five or fewer. But what if I told you there was a reason to believe a return to 2018 was possible in that regard? Well, here's at least one reason: Woods was targeted a mere three times inside the red zone before December and did not see a single look inside the 20 in November. Over the last five games of the season, he attracted six such targets. If that seems to fall in line with the team's highly publicized switch from 11 personnel to more 12 personnel, you would be right. To put his last five games into some perspective, he kept company with Michael Thomas in terms of targets (61-59), catches (45-39), receiving yards (483-471) and receiving TDs (3-2) over that stretch. If the Rams continue to lean more on 12 personnel this year, Woods might be a dark-horse candidate to lead the league in catches. Thanks in part to a copious number of rushing attempts in each of the last two seasons (19 in 2018 and 17 in 2019), Woods has exceeded 100 touches both years. He has topped 130 targets as well, suggesting volume won't be a problem anytime soon. Count your blessings if he lasts until the middle of the fourth round.

Kenny Golladay has been a popular third-round target for the bulk of the spring and summer and occasionally even makes an appearance at the end of the second round. It's not hard to make the case for him in that area based on his talent and the fact he led the league with 13 targets inside the 10. With that said, I'm stretching his touchdown upside a lot to rank him as high as I have him. There's a strong case to be made he'll benefit from a full season of Matthew Stafford slinging him the rock, but potential fantasy owners must consider how likely it is that he matches last year's efficiency. Can he repeat last year's 11 touchdowns on 65 catches after scoring eight times on his first 98 career receptions? The industry has been quick to suggest A.J. Brown is due for regression after he averaged 20.2 yards per catch last year. How about Golladay's 18.3? Let's also not forget about the addition of D'Andre Swift (admittedly unlikely to compete for similar targets since Golladay is more of a vertical receiver) and another step forward from T.J. Hockenson. If Hockenson manages to stay healthy, it's a virtual lock he will steal a sizable chunk of Golladay's targets inside the 10 AND his downfield looks. Marvin Jones isn't going anywhere yet either.

Tier 4 receivers and beyond

While the depth of the position and the emergence of DK Metcalf contribute to it, the lack of respect Tyler Lockett is receiving in drafts borders is ridiculous. Let's begin with the most important factor: perhaps no quarterback-receiver duo has a stronger connection than the one Russell Wilson has with Lockett. Before suffering a leg bruise that required a hospital stay in Week 10, Lockett was the overall WR3 in total fantasy points and WR5 in points per game. He dealt with the flu about the same time he was trying to recover from the leg injury, but it was pretty much business as usual after that once he came off the injury report in Week 15. Skeptics will point to Seattle's run-heavy ways and a subsequent lack of targets (relative to the elite receivers) as reasons why they pass on him, but it should be noted Lockett has a career catch rate of 71.5 percent and finished above that mark in each of the last two seasons. In short, Lockett doesn't require a ton of targets (110 last year) because he makes the most of his somewhat limited opportunities. There's a strong case to be made for Lockett going in the late third round, yet he is typically available in the early-to-middle part of the fifth.

Take one look at Will Fuller's injury history; can anyone justify why there is at least one person in every draft who sees him as a godsend in the fifth or sixth round? I am the first to get annoyed anytime someone slaps the "injury-prone" tag on a player just because they had the audacity to get hurt playing a brutal game. I do believe there is such a thing as being prone to injury though (or not having a good "football frame"). It seems rather obvious when a player has suffered five documented hamstring injuries, two knee strains, one torn ACL, a shoulder fracture, a rib fracture, etc. over four NFL seasons that he may not be the definition of durable. He hasn't even been all that consistent when he has been on the field. He has scored a touchdown in just one of his last 15 games (three times in Week 5 last season). He set career highs last season with 49 catches and 670 yards. While the trade of DeAndre Hopkins opens up a bunch of targets in this offense, it did not come with a guarantee Fuller is physically capable of being the man. To his credit, Fuller tackled the problem head-on this offseason. Adding strength to his lower body should help, but we've already covered the fact that not all of his injuries have been to his lower body or suffered as the result of a lack of muscle. It is nice to see that Deshaun Watson believes so much in Fuller's ability, but there's not a lot of evidence suggest he is capable of living up to his draft spot or staying on the field for the bulk of the team's schedule.

A word or two about tight ends

When I landed Zach Ertz in the early third round of the Scott Fish Bowl (tight end premium scoring) in early July, I considered myself extremely fortunate. Nearly two months later, the public still seems to be undervaluing him. In two of four best-ball leagues that I've participated in over the last week, I have drafted him in the fifth round once and the sixth round another time. In an industry auction league a little over a week ago, I got him for $10. Although tight end position is as deep as I can ever remember it being, the position isn't exactly overflowing with 80-catch options. Ertz may not be the shiny new toy that everyone wants at age 29, but he is still Carson Wentz's favorite target by a wide margin and the unquestioned starter in a good offense. He has managed at least 75 catches and 800 receiving yards in five straight seasons and attracted at least 135 targets in each of the last two years. That alone should be enough to cement an automatic third-round selection or $15-18 bid. Never mind the fact Ertz was a walking M*A*S*H* unit by the end of 2019. Through 14 "mostly" healthy games, Ertz was the overall TE2 and within an earshot of Travis Kelce for TE1 honors.

While Philadelphia will undoubtedly continue to use a heavy dose of 12 personnel to make sure it takes advantage of Dallas Goedert's skill, the Eagles may have enough quality receivers to use more 11 personnel after drafting Jalen Reagor this spring and getting a strong camp from slot Greg Ward. The market seems to be reading Dallas Goedert's usage down the stretch as a precursor to a breakout, but something will need to give if the receivers enjoy even moderately better injury luck in 2020. Goedert may not take a huge hit statistically, but he is not a great bet to be a regular fantasy star barring an injury to Ertz.

One of my favorite late-round targets at tight end this year - along with Irv Smith - is Greg Olsen. How can that be? In two seasons following the departure of Jimmy Graham, Seattle's tight ends have scored a total of 15 touchdowns. Even the strongest supporters of Will Dissly will struggle to say he is something more than a league-average talent, but he is the best option the Seahawks have given Russell Wilson at the position post-Graham. What has become quite apparent is that Wilson loves throwing to his tight ends near the end zone, as that is largely how Dissly has become such a familiar name to fantasy owners. Olsen may be about five years removed from his prime and a bit of an injury risk given his foot problems, but he proved he still has something left in 2019 by amassing 52 catches for 597 yards with Kyle Allen as his quarterback. Olsen can still stretch the seam a bit at age 35 and joins an offense led by two receivers (Lockett and Metcalf) capable of scoring from anywhere. Seattle also can run the rock. In short, Olsen isn't going to be the first or even third most pressing concern for defenses. That's a good deal for his fantasy owners.


Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.